2021 New Scholars Award Winners
The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion recognizes three outstanding articles for the 2021 Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholars Award. First place was awarded to Thuy Anh Tran and Chaya Halberstam for their article “‘I Think God Is a Feminist”: Art and Action by Orthodox Jewish Women.” Second place was awarded to Slava Greenberg for “Run From Your Parent’s House: Transfeminism and Abraham’s Blessing,” and third-place was awarded to Michelle Wolff for “Companion Sex Robots: Racialized Household Economics.”
The four judges (doubly-anonymous) for the New Scholars Award provided extensive remarks on the three recipients, commenting specifically on the authors’ commitments to intersectional and interdisciplinary feminist scholarship.
One judge wrote of Tran and Halberstam’s article: “This is a fascinating study of Orthodox Jewish artists and how they negotiate and bridge faith and feminism while remaining in the religion and also how they negotiate tzniut. I think this gives voice to those whose voices we don’t usually hear.” Another judge added, “This article furthers discussion of feminist issues by addressing tensions that emerge in the Orthodox women’s movement and that have parallels in other traditional religious communities, and it envisions possibilities for change. Indeed, it is about negotiating change in a traditional community.”
Of Greenberg’s article, a judge said, “This piece brings together two very different areas, transfeminist theory and the analysis of Genesis, in interesting, creative, and illuminating ways. Using Transparent as the means to discuss and challenge who can claim religious leadership reiterated the (possible) futility of gender as a criteria for religious authority. The changes the author seeks in religious change, within institutions, practices, and families is aspirational in theory and practice.”
Wolff’s article “brings together very different areas–robotics, womanist ethics and African theology—and therefore is innovative and provocative, and it offers an important antiracist analysis,” according to one judge. “The article makes a new contribution by raising fundamental questions about what defines humanity (and therefore women) as distinct from robots, by illuminating the gendered and racialized nature of human-robot interactions (including abuse), and by using womanist ethics and African theology to make the case that companion sex robots are ultimately not a solution to loneliness and isolation. It does further discussion on important feminist issues of personhood, domestic violence, sex work, care labor, and gendered racism. Ultimately the focus on companion sex robots enables us to think more deeply about just human-human interaction and an antiracist (if not anti-robot) future.”
The Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholars Awards were named in honor of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, the Co-Founder and Co-Editor of JFSR, on the occasion of her 70th birthday (April 2008). Elisabeth’s contributions to fostering critical feminist scholarship and building solidarity for change run deep and wide. By naming these awards given to promising feminist scholars after Elisabeth, we recognize both the historical impact of her work, as well as the many ways that her acumen and energy continue to enrich, inspire, and advance feminist studies in religion.
The Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholars Awards signal our awareness of the need to encourage and give recognition to the emerging voices of new scholars, whose research and insights will shape the future of feminist studies in religion.